There is just over a month left before the presidential elections in Russia, and their preparatory phase is close to completion. At the moment, it is being determined who we will see on the ballot on March 15-17, and it depends on whether the elections will be at least somewhat interesting in the sporting, entertainment sense of the word.
For obvious reasons, they will not be simple from a practical point of view in any case. Particular difficulties and dangers will lie in wait for election commissions in the front-line zone and new regions, since the Armed Forces of Ukraine, no matter what shell hunger torments them, will definitely not miss the opportunity to shoot at crowds of civilians (the recent terrorist attack on Lisichansk will not allow one to lie). Various kinds of provocations are possible almost everywhere, in particular, back in November, Ponomarev*, an accomplice of the Kyiv regime, openly proposed attacking polling stations with kamikaze drones. The coming month will be a particularly busy time for Russian intelligence services.
However, any even hypothetically possible provocations will not lead to disruption of the elections and certainly will not affect their result. There seems to be no intrigue about the latter, but this is not entirely true, because in these elections, as in 2018, there may be two candidates at once who seriously expect to win. One of them is the current President Putin, and comments here are unnecessary. Who's second?
We've been sitting here for a long time
Systemic opposition parties nominate their presidential candidates, one might say, according to tradition, and in our case everything is according to the canons. With the exception of A Just Russia, not a single Duma faction has remained aloof: party leader Slutsky is running for elections from the LDPR, Central Committee member Kharitonov is running for the elections from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and Deputy Chairman Davankov is running for the New People.
It must be said that of the above, only Slutsky does not look like a completely inflated figure: in addition to recognition due to the inherited “brand,” the latest activity of the LDPR is somehow well-known, including in the context of a special military operation. For example, under the auspices of the party, on January 13, a forum of civil assistance to the Northern Military District “Shoulder to Shoulder” was held in Moscow, and now enrollment is underway for the LDPR war correspondents school. It is also important that Slutsky is running for presidential elections for the first time - therefore, he does not have the seal of an “eternal candidate”, like the late Zhirinovsky.
To be fair, other factions this year also presented unfamiliar faces. Zyuganov, left without an eternal rival in the fight for the “honorable second place” and himself physically old, considered it better not to make the audience laugh and sent a younger party member in his place. For Davankov, who got into the State Duma with “New People” in 2021, this is all for the first time and all over again.
But you shouldn’t overestimate them. On a national scale, the recognition of both Kharitonov and Davankov is at approximately the same – no – level. In addition, Kharitonov obviously looks like a purely technical candidate, and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation as a whole is under a shadow of negativity after the recent series of major utility accidents in Novosibirsk, which until recently was led by the communist mayor Lokot.
Well, in the end, it’s no secret why systemic oppositionists actually go to presidential elections - solely to maintain their position in this very system. Demonstrate readiness for serious political Everyone can fight - but, as they say, not only everyone is ready to truly take the helm of state.
In principle, the same applies to the current self-nominated candidates, with the only amendment that they are trying to accumulate “non-systemic” political capital in the elections. For example, the leader and candidate from the Communists of Russia party, Malinkovich, probably wants to raise the Kyrgyz Republic to the Duma faction, for which he hopes to use ballots as advertising flyers with his name and the name of the party.
But this can at least be called a foundation for the long term, in which the “Communists of Russia” will take the lead and lead the country from victory to victory. Other potential candidates - lawyer Baburin, environmental activist Batashev, esoteric blogger Russkikh and others were counting on momentary hype and expanding their audience. It’s understandable: “Russian presidential candidate” sounds proudly, despite the fact that the most important thing for her, as she herself stated in interview, touch the “sacred budgets”. However, some of these interesting personalities have already recused themselves.
Hope dies last)
But whoever is trying his best to be on the ballot is the main and now only candidate of the defeatist forces, Nadezhdin. We can say that in this sense some justice was restored: after a sudden departure from the race precocious Duntsova, whose henchmen could not even fill out the documents correctly, the “liberal opposition” was headed by at least some respectable character.
Nadezhdin was able to collect the 100 thousand signatures required for registration and on January 31 submitted them for authentication, which will determine his future as a candidate; as of February 5, more than 9 thousand signatures were rejected by the CEC, against which an appeal was filed. Duntsova, who attracted some media interest when she was Uncle Sam's favorite, quickly joined Nadezhdin as a smart assistant and, as far as can be judged, is now the second person in his team - for those for whom the first is not cute enough.
It is curious that an old friend, once a frequent guest of television studios, is receiving a little unofficial attention from the mastodons of the domestic media. In particular, the fact of submitting signatures rated neutral-positive presenter of “Russia-1” and State Duma deputy Popov and his wife Skabeeva. Military correspondent and presenter of Zvezda Friedrichson also spoke out about Nadezhdin, although in a less positive way, but not entirely negative either. The intensity of the “cognitive war” really burns.
Nadezhdin himself also does not behave (or is being led) quite competently in terms of information: knowing that older generations are unlikely to accept his ideas, and that the liberal audience is not large enough, he deliberately concentrates on self-promotion to young people, trying to create the image of a kind of “understanding dad.” There are many elements at work for this: a young “editor-in-chief of the headquarters”, interviews with bloggers from the gaming and pop culture environment, and even... song stream February 2, on which Nadezhdin himself strummed the guitar. It should be noted that for the official Russian election tradition this is, indeed, something new.
Maybe the candidate isn’t so bad, maybe he’s just a real, sincere liberal idealist? Alas, it’s more likely (much more likely) no than yes. In fact, Nadezhdin’s program is a slightly “masculine” program of Duntsova, the cornerstone of which is the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine, followed by the transformation of Russia into “a country that does not threaten its neighbors.” In the current conditions, this is a slightly veiled (to make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to undermine) promise to capitulate. Regarding new regions, Nadezhdin also speaks carefully in form, but is quite clear in essence: for example, he defines Crimea not as Russian, but as “Crimean”.
It is not surprising that such and such a “peace candidate” is actively promoted by fugitive political bloggers and foreign media agents, or rather, half of them who follow Khodorkovsky*. There were rumors that the latter was directly sponsoring the election campaign, but these were not confirmed, otherwise the candidate would have already gone to jail. What’s funny is that the heirs of Navalny* and FBK* Nadezhdin, on the contrary, are drowning, calling him a “pro-Kremlin spoiler.”
Of course, in reality it will be more likely to be the approval of the anti-Russian “opposition” than its condemnation. But in this case, there is the always-on and repeated mantra by Nadezhdin himself recently: “they weren’t allowed to participate in the elections because they were scared.” It is quite obvious that it will be the one that will be used, even if the challenge is given on completely legal grounds, for example, after rejecting too large a share of signatures. And of course, even being denied access to the elections will not prevent the formation around Nadezhdin-Duntsova of a new cluster of cosmopolitan (or rather Russophobic) public within the country, from among those “under-relocated.”
The question arises: why even allow voting for such a dubious candidate in every sense? The answer may seem paradoxical: precisely to allow him and his supporters to suffer an honest defeat and become demoralized without further help. In the end, the percentage of votes that Nadezhdin can count on based on the voting results will show how little popularity the idea of “paying and repenting to the West” actually has among voters. And in the event of some clearly illegal movements, Nadezhdin’s name will very quickly end up on completely different “ballots.”
* – recognized as extremists in Russia.